Chinese Supergun?


Lieutenant General
Satellite imagery reveals mystery 'supergun' in Chinese desert

Sean O'Connor, Indianapolis - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

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Satellite imagery has revealed two unusually large artillery pieces, measuring about 80 ft and 110 ft respectively, at a test centre for armour and artillery northwest of Baotou in China.

The two pieces, which are horizontally mounted, are mounted on a concrete pad that appeared between September 2010 and December 2011, when the two pieces were first captured by satellite imagery. Images provided by Astrium confirmed that the objects were still in place in July 2013.

The 2011 imagery clearly depicts a series of what appear to be targets in front of the 110 ft piece, suggesting some kind of penetration testing for high-velocity projectiles.

China has historically shown interest in large calibre, long-range artillery. It experimented with the Xianfeng 'supergun' in the 1970s as part of Project 640 anti-ballistic missile programme. Approximately 85 ft long, Xianfeng may be the smaller of the two objects retained for experimental use after its cancellation in 1980.

In the 1990s it was revealed that China had built a long-range 'supergun' technology testbed similar to the Iraqi Project Babylon supergun designed by Gerald Bull. IHS Jane's Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery & Air Defence notes that Bull was heavily involved in designing long-range Chinese artillery systems for Norinco in the 1980s.

The larger Baotou artillery piece outwardly resembles the Project Babylon 'supergun', which was theoretically capable of extreme-range artillery barrages or of targeting orbiting satellites. Bull's 'Baby Babylon' testbed measured 150 ft in length, compared with the 105 ft-long larger piece at Baotou.


Although the Baotou pieces appear similar in design to the Bull 'supergun' concept, it seems unlikely that they are intended for long-range artillery barrages or anti-satellite operations given China's extensive long-term development of ballistic missiles for both of these missions.

Alternatively, the devices could also be railgun prototypes, although this appears unlikely as there is no significant external power routed to the test pad and a lack of environmental protection. The other possibility is that China is simply reusing the legacy systems from its long-range artillery programmes from the 1970s and 1990s as part of a projectile test range - a view that is supported by the presence of what appears to be 'used' targets on the northwest side of the pad.

Anyone have access to the complete article?


Lieutenant General
I would imagine if it has the kind of range as advertised, China could get rid of most of the missiles aimed at Taiwan.


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I would imagine if it has the kind of range as advertised, China could get rid of most of the missiles aimed at Taiwan.

My thought exactly. Being reload-able, with guided shells, and a small and hard to detect flight profile, it could easily supplement or even replace SRBM forces in many years time.

Over on CDF hongjian posted an interesting conceptual article with drawings listing a vertical gun on a mobile TEL with a reach of up to 600 km, with massive shells that are guided and maneuverable to the extent that a vertical launch allows it to orient towards the target. Firing rate of 2 per minute.

(Old fan drawing of course, but shows a hypothetical system)

A super long range artillery gun would be cheaper than SRBM, be able to provide more sustainable fire, possibly at competitive range to SRBMs with similar or better accuracy, while being more difficult to intercept, all on a similar road mobile TEL. limitations of SRBMs include the difficulty to reload your missile, as well as the high launch signature. Super long range gun artillery would circumvent these disadvantages handily.

SRBMs are already in use for Russia and china as supplements or replacements for precision air strikes. Precision guided super long range artillery could provide an even more formidable option. Equally fast transit time, similar payload, difficult to detect, just as precise, but can provide continuous fire.
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Tyrant King
Years ago I remember reading a techno thriller who's plot was the Chinese using a Bull based design to build a super gun as a ASAT weapon.


The Germans had super guns in both WWI and WWII, and they turned out to be hideously expensive, required disproportionately large amount of men and material, and had limited tactical value.


Junior Member

Dont forget that the rounds in that picture are suppossed to be ramjet powered. Hence the long range.
The payload options also look interesting. HE, Anti Personell as well as Anti Armor Cluster bomb units, fuel air explosive, and, most interestingly, small near-earth-orbit satellites, as well as anti-satellite payloads.

Bull wanted his gun to shoot payloads into space, originally. With this in mind, it gets really interesting.


Yeah and that's why the Israelis went after the guy behind Saddam's supergun because it didn't have any value.

Could have easily been the Iranians or Syrians, who also deeply hated Mr. al-Tikriti.

Come to think of it, it could have been the Iraqi Mukhabarat as well. Dr. Bull had talked to the Israelis about the supergun at least several times.


Yeah and that's why the Israelis went after the guy behind Saddam's supergun because it didn't have any value.

Israel took out Iraq's super gun because they were concerned Saddam would use chemical shells on their cities. There's no evidence China would first-use chemical weapons.